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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 5, 2011 5:15pm-6:00pm EDT

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conversation that took place ten years ago between these people and i know what was said by don't know the the exact words one journalist might say they talked about in rocks but to me that is a very boring and week way of telling that scene. i know they talked about moon rocks and i know what they did and there was some journalists who loved it and some who don't and will be a controversy forever in terms of certain journalists will never like it with a social networks and accidental billionaires'. mark zuckerberg came out and said it's not true. it's not true and he called me and jackie collins of silicon valley. another point about anything that wasn't true he just said the whole thing is not true he said i don't know when you go with that. so, i think the reality is it is a very true story he meant to
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have sex on the rocks because he wanted to be like having sex on the moon he wanted to be to spread them on the bed and janet had a problem with that same he just put them under the mattress but that is not true. i use the fact split with in my style and some people like it and some people don't. next from the 11th annual national book festival on the national tour in washington "washington post" columnist eugene discusses the book disintegration the splintering of black america.phnes. >> and the executive editor of the washington post. we are proud to be a sponsor ofr the festival as we have been in the 11 years since it's been hr, going as you know the festival
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was one of the cities in thees d nation'sestivals, a place for books and writing, think in the people who do all those things are celebrated. it is my carper was today to open by introducing a eugene robinson. the active introducing him to an audience in washington is pro lee and exercise and redundancy. he is a big figure in this town, and for many it reasons. a longtime reporter and editor at the post. he now writes a column for the paper and website and the syndicated nationally. as you know, if you read him, he writes toughly and compassionately and has written on just about any and every subject you or i or anybody else might find interesting. he has also held just about every job post. @booktv as a reporter covering city hall, city editor, south america, london bureau chief, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor overseeing the style section before he began writing opinion columns in 2005.
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he won a pulitzer prize. today he is here because he is also an author. his latest book, "disintegration," is a fascinating exploration of the ever shifting sands and understanding of race in america. this train that he has covered powerfully before. in his book as south carolina native describes himself as an african-american who once was black, once was a negro, once was a colored boy. in that but there is a telling sentence that sets up the idea in his new book. he writes, and a chronic integrator. sometimes by accident, sometimes by design whose ancestral has always been either a black sedan that was schools or a black employee at white institutions. contrast that with the title of the first chapter of his new book, black america does not live here anymore. you get the idea of the journey he is taking, an extraordinary one and one i hope you'll join when you read his book.
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eugene robinson. [applause] >> thank you so much. thank you. thank you, everyone, for coming, and thank you, marcus, for that wonderful attraction. marcus is a great journalist who has what i think has to be one of the toughest jobs in america, adding a great daily newspaper in the era of the internet, an era that is not being kind to great daily newspapers. maintaining the quality of the journalism and the ambition and a compass when of the loss in the post. he does it eloquently and has been doing it for several years now. he has not been over, as most of
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us would be, or crushed by the pressure. so i -- let me first applaud him and thank him for his position. [applause] i am going to talk a bit about disintegration which is just out in paperback and how that book came about. what it is about and then open it up to questions, and we can have more of a conversation for the second half of this time that we have together. disintegration, by the way, is just out in paperback. coming out right now. so anyone who was interested to my think the nice folks at barnes and noble would be happy to sell your copy.
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"disintegration" is a book that grew out of a nagging feeling. it was -- to the extent that there was a conversation at all about black america, i felt, it was an unreel conversation. it seems to be -- it seemed to have very little connection with the reality that i was seeing everyday. so this kind of thought worked on me for really a couple of years, 2005, 2006. i was thinking that low, maybe there is some sort of booked here. maybe -- my thought was that black america was really much more diverse economically,
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socially, and culturally than it was -- than we made it out to be. and we talk about black america we talk about it as if it were still might. ♪ @booktv our 1968. you should make certain generalizations that system or its balance anymore. so i did not know where this led, and in 2007 actually three things happened to that made me think this is steadily a book. the first was that the pew research center which does all sorts of interesting survey is about anything under the sun did a survey of african-americans. varied toward the end of this survey finding was the following
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question and response. thirty-seven percentage of the black americans who were interviewed by pugh said they no longer believed black americans could be thought of as a single race. i said, wow, that is a really we're finding. there was no kind of backup to say check what that meant, but i said to my you know, that seems to fit into what i have been thinking, and a think it is probably -- i think it means something, but that on budget what it means. second thing that happened was that a group of black publishing executives from the african-american press run the country or in washington for a meeting, and there were invited
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here, invited to the "washington post" for reception. i was asked to deliver a few remarks at this reception, kind of a drive by greeting, five minutes, hello, how are you, welcome to washington. you can guess the charlie outside. see you later. so i went downstairs to our auditorium and a spoke with this group for a while. i started getting into this question of diversity in the black community and within when we talk about black america we were talking about reality. and the response was incredible. this five manager by turned into an hour in which was more of them talking to me than me talking to them. people said, you know, it's really true. you know, there is this group in the middle class is doing well, but there is also this group
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that is not doing well. somebody pipes up, what about the immigrants, like immigrants. it was just a really energizing and in some ways validating dialogue. maybe think will, there is something here. so assertedly research, started looking at census data, marketing studies coming academic papers to my journalism, anything that i could get my hands on that kind of address this question of what was black america today as opposed to the black america 40 years ago. and then i actually worked up the proposal for disintegration and signed up with doubleday to do the book.
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and then the third thing happened in two dozen seven which is that the presidential campaign of barack obama caught fire. this junior senator from illinois who had a name of the guantanamo detainees list of a sudden was not just a viable candid for the democratic nomination but looked like he might get it. so i talked to my editors, my book editors who were by then patiently waiting for me to you started, and explain that i didn't really think i could do this book until i knew how the story came out. so i did wait for the story to come out. i will tell to stay below brief story.
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as some of you know, i grew up in orange where, south carolina in the late 1950's and early 1960's toward the end of jim crow. up went to segregated schools, lived in a black neighborhood on the black satin town because that is where one lives. i was too young to remember, but dr. king did visit my church. to black colleges. in 1968 there was an incident that became known as the point spurt massacre. students from south carolina state university began a demonstration over a segregated bowling alley in the heart of orangeburg called the all-star lanes. long since closed.
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it was a whites-only borelli, and this protest over the bowling alley grew into something larger and mushroomed over the course of three nights. after the second night the demonstration was about 500 yards from my house, so we have kind of a direct line of sight. after the second night i remember putting up in the morning. the schools were all close to. i was looking out the window to see what was going on, and my father who was an extremely gentlemen yell the me in a voice that he'd never used before and said it down out of the window right now. so i ducked down. then he let me pique over the wonder so. right across the street from our house there was a line of 12 highway patrol cars. state troopers were out of the cars behind the open doors of their cars with the rifles
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pointed at a house two doors down from our house. there were looking for the organizer from the student nonviolent coordinating committee. a man in cleveland sellers who they correctly suspected was the outside agitator who was stirring a pall of the call of folk and orangeburg, and they were coming to get him. he had better intelligence than they had, so he was long gone, so there was no gun fired up morning. however, that night there was. when petro clinton had been fired upon from the campus. gunfire was never demonstrated. it was never proved that anybody on the campus that anyone that did buy into a crowd. when the smoke cleared three young black men had been killed.
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a couple of dozen other people were injured. that was the orangeburg massacre. ventura to election night 2008 when we are about to see how the obama story was coming out, i was at rockefeller center with my very interesting but somewhat dysfunctional immense nbc family on the anchor desk. it was that. when it was really dysfunctional ahead keith coleman and chris matthews. rachael mellon i were there trying to figure out what the deal was with keith and chris. and at 1040 fund that evening we heard through our earpiece is that the network was born to call the election for obama.
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and so i got to live one of the moments of my life that will never forget, i got to the at the next break taken myself on and call a father and mother. my father was then 92 years old. he died several months later actually, like before the inauguration. get to call a father and mother who was 87. tell them that they have lived to see the election of the first african-american president in u.s. history. it is a moment that i will never forget, among the none of us will ever forget it. offensively a moment that kind of rounded out the arc of the story that i had decided that wanted to tell with "disintegration". essentially that there isn't one
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black america anymore. i somewhat arbitrarily because i think says decisions are almost always arbitrary, came out with not one black america, but for. they are as follows. from all the research are did come all the interviewing added, it seemed to me that number one there was a majority of african-americans, not a huge majority, but a majority that had managed to enter the middle class such as they're is a middle-class in this country anymore. we can discuss that and we can also discuss the impact of the recession. but if you look not only that and come but if you look good education and other sorts of social indicators and try to
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make a realistic assessments of not only where people are, what the prospects are, i see a majority that answers the middle-class and call that group of mainstream. it was clear to me, however, that there is also a very large minority of african-americans. 35 percent, perhaps. did not make that cry from poverty to the middle class and for whom that climb is more difficult and actually becoming more improbable there has been in decades simply because so many runs a missing.
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those blue-collar jobs that used to exist that a person with -- who perhaps did not have a college education to but wanted to work and do better for his our family to get a job, half chubs security, a good salary, good benefits, pension when they retired, could have a house, to send their kids to college so their kids will have a better life. millions of african-americans, many of whom participated in the great migration from south to north ticket vintage of this great sort of escalator that the other industry in detroit provided and that other industries in chicago or
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baltimore or wherever provided. welcome an example is michele obama's family. the way -- her father is sort of the person i think of when i think of this striving achieving group of african americans. and where those jobs. row, there are and -- they are in china, lot of them were in china. there will be moving offshore from china at some points and to places where you could be even lower wages. but there are not here. they're not going to be here. so i huge graphic and americans that to my mind has become abandon to practically. that is what i call that group. the abandoned. and then i saw something is new.
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a group of african-americans to have a chief to were attained wealth, power to more influence on the skill far beyond anything we had seen before, not just go to to other african-americans, but anybody in the world the number one example would be president obama, president of the united states. also oprah winfrey the founder of black entertainment television the first black billionaire. richard parsons who was chairman and ceo of the world's biggest entertainment media images in a company, time warner. and then was asked to come back after retirement, leave his
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vineyard in tuscany and come back to help buy the share after the collapse. and so we had ed tete lows that if we could never have had ever in history. african-american president grappling with the worst financial economic crisis as the great depression season at a steady hand is needed at this giants broke important financial restitution and is it what to call on african-american seasoned ceo to come in and apprenticeships. they could not have happened before. so i called this tiny group, the transom in crude. actually opened the book with the scene from the party that vernon jordan sounds that was quite interesting finally i saw
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something new that i call them immersed in black america. this emerging group to my further subdivided. one is the record number of black immigrants from the caribbean, but especially from africa who have come to this country in the last two or three decades to a special last of the years to arrive from ethiopia or nigeria or donna, intact families, without a lot of money, will with a tremendous amount of education. the best educated group of immigrants coming to the country today. and his children are doing spectacularly well.
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a few years ago skip gates at harvard did an informal survey that has been since replicated with more rigor. what did it was they just took a list of the incoming black freshman at harvard and check how many were african surnames. it was a little more than half my belief. my wife for several years branda college access and a scholarship program that she founded for african-american students from washington. we found the same thing. we found that at least to my would say, 35-40% and at times more of high achieving by
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students in this area have african surnames. clearly obviously either ethiopian are nigerian. and this sort of record of achievement tells me of this is going to be a very, very important group in the future. the other emergent group that i saw is the increasing number of biracial black, white americans who self identify her as african-american combat his relationship with white america is somewhat different in nuanced waste, but somewhat different in mind as president of lama has talked about. remember during his re speech in philadelphia when he essentially said before he threw rev. right under the bus he said, i can no more through rev. red and the
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bust and i could my own grandmother, my out white grandmother whom i've heard save racially insensitive things. seems to me that this is a nuanced -- is a distinction. so those other groups and assault. mainstream abandoned it, transcendent, emergence. and disintegration really is about how we got to where we are and eventually where we're headed. where i really come out is that whatever is left of affirmative action, whenever tension we have, we get some and for promotion of equality and justice in this time.
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if it means the rest of us have to fend for ourselves, that's fine, but we are in danger of losing millions and millions of people who are just jumping off the map in terms of the society. so thank you, again to much for coming. i'm going to stop talking now so we can do a few minutes of questions. thank you. thank you. [applause] a couple of microphones appear. >> yes. a just wanted to ask a question regarding the primary basis. >> sir, could people might down. >> sure. okay. your primary thesis that you have these three groups, so the
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speak. don't you think this same situation applies to many ethnic and racial groups, you have a, what you might call an emerging group, transcendent crude, and those that might be left out. that might apply to other ethnic and racial groups. >> the question is whether that, this sort of scheme applies to other ethnic or racial groups. you know, i bassein a general sense i think you could certainly -- you could certainly look at other groups in a similar fashion. i am not sure you would, with the same way of kind of figuring out distinctions him for example, if you were talking about latinos you might put some
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emphasis on national origin which is still, you know, kind of an important factor in some people's lives. but, yeah, you could use the same method to my think, for kind of looking at other groups to. >> you made a distinction along race lines, but as you were speaking it seems as though addressing the problem would be as much a plus in economics as racial. >> yes. right. are we talking race or are we talking class? at the inevitable answer is both. and what i -- you know, i tried to go into the book with an open mind. i tried to prepare myself to be led to the conclusion that
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really we didn't need to talk race anymore. we just in to talk about class. i didn't come to the conclusion. i understand. i found it impossible to kind of ts the two apart. yes. certainly the economic -- the economic situation of the abandoned will be addressed when we -- here is an idea, when we talk about poverty and ways to alleviate poverty and actually pay more than lip service to the notion that everybody deserves a chance in this society. >> thank you for your comments.
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perry much of meyer your work. >> thank you so much. >> and a look forward to reading your book. i have not had the opportunity as yet, but it strikes me in your comment about jobs going away, in china and elsewhere in the world and that they're not coming back. i think that is true. i think that companies are very invested outside of the united states, but i think that also they could make more of an investment here in the united states if they were motivated to do so. for example, just retraining of the abandoned regardless of class or ethnicity, but the returning aspect of building more schools, secondary schools, thinking of two-year tug schools, with that of their focused on that. wonder if you address solutions in your book and think that that
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might be a way to and since companies, manufacturing companies and otherwise to focus more on that. >> i do try to address some solutions in the book, and i kind of decided not to confine myself to what i thought could get 60 votes in the senate because otherwise i could just call susan collins and olympia snowe and ask them what we should do because they would be the votes. but where i came out is that, you know, the one thing i've seen that really works is a -- is very expensive because it is a holistic approach. you have got to work and education. education is complicated. i use the sample in the book of a program that my former
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colleague, a pulitzer prize-winning columnist of the post to retired and started a nonprofit called baby steps in his hometown in mississippi, a tiny little town of mostly black if thery poor. how to read to their children that there was nobody in the household capable of doing that in a way that really helped thec chhiildren, so he needed a centf for those kids to come to, he needed to do some of arrow assessment work before taking
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into the program for the kids to n come then he found he needed to deal with nutritional and healtb issues because there were a lot of, you know, chronic disease and diabetes and obesity about, you know, kids who were eating a lot of empty calories, but not could calories. he had to deal with the health aspect. it just kind of mushroomed. having a real impact. you know, a famous newspaper columnist his name is recognized he got his phone calls returned with the called the toward foundation and other brick foundations and he managed to raise a lot of money that is having a real impact. very expensive. we need 30 million.
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>> yes. to make from the point of view of working in schools in arlington. their i saw that the african-american, historically african-american kids versus the african, historic african kids saw themselves as to complete and not as a surly friendly groups. gathering for what you're saying, things get better by college-age, but how do you see this? >> tina, i do think that at least in my fairly limited experience -- we have not had a chance to do a longitudinal study of the relationship, but it strikes me that it does, that the friction which received in the schools in the elementary and secondary schools and a culture clash seems to attenuate, diminish over time.
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you see a lot less of that in college and then, of course, as this large sort of group of foreign-born or first generation kids moves out into the workplace, the dual see it even less. as they turned increasingly identified as african american rather than as ethiopian or nigerian organ in and as african-americans and explain their definition of african-american. thank you. >> i would like to know from your research on the fragmentation of blacks if you get a sense that the election of barack obama would go the way of the election of her washington, a moment in time not to be repeated anytime soon or has the country gun to a real turning point? >> i don't know.
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you know, if i knew i would be in tremendous demand as a pond of. for what we have seen cents a think you could make a good argument that the stars aligned in an unusual way. nonetheless, you know, they could the line again. it wasn't an accident, and it does reflect, i think, obviously real change in the country because it could not possibly have happened to, you know, 20 years ago or 30 years ago. i don't know if it happens again next year. i don't know. and does it happen anytime soon? and rethink he was the man for
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the specific moment. if the man and woman for another specific moment emerges, but you just don't know. you just don't know. >> should morning. enjoy watching you on cnn. okay. my question to my going to piggyback off of a previous comment from a different perspective. i'm paraphrasing. was about the abandoned class. all of that. and i wanted your take on, okay, the abandoned class. that issue has to be addressed, but oftentimes when he addressed the abandoned class as perceived as welfare or classism or socialism, but on the other and you do have -- in and not try to make it this political. corporate welfare, bailouts and what not, but it is not perceived in the same way and they are both almost the same. what do you think that, okay, if you help the underclass there is
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a perception or socialism. it is not viewed in the same way if you bail of a larger company. corporate welfare. >> welcome and that is an excellent question. i don't have an answer as to why we don't see corporate welfare, we don't recognize corporate welfare and we do recognize -- well, we don't even have welfare anymore. we are certainly determined to get rid of social welfare. so, you know, i don't know. i don't know. the similarity seems clear to me i can't hear you. >> what part of the opposition to president obama did you feel is racial?
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at first it might seem obvious, but clinton has such an upward opposition as well. duty that is part of the system now? >> the question, what part of the opposition to president obama did i think is racial, i don't know. 48 percent. 52i think it is a lot. some of it i think is consciously racial and some of it is broadly -- probably not to listen or conscious. for some people i think his race militates against legitimacy in some way. it is striking to me of the
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extent to which people feel they have permission to consider the duly elected in a landslide president of the united states has about a legitimate, and a legitimate holder of the office, that is just the birth there, but -- and you know, if you think i'm overstating that the house show you my e-mails. i get it. it's sometimes very ugly. >> thank you. i may special educator in montgomery county schools. even though i think it is not a special education perspective, the problem in education today i feel is that the vocational
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programs in has schools of a shutdown. you could be a very intelligent person but not interested in the academic program. there seems to be no addressing this in the race to the top program. >> i agree. we have not been creative enough in thinking of education and offering viable alternatives, particularly, you know, in the vocations. we're going to have to find some way to do that. navy is through community colleges. but why not start in the secondary level. it is an excellent question.
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no one side does not fit all, and we know we're not giving people the kind of education that they need to compete at a high level without a surly of a classic liberal arts colleges vacation. >> i really enjoyed watching you. if you have the upper to the to speak with president obama would you tell him about the abandoned class to make and take notice, he and his senior advisers to try to help the class you have so well identified? thank you. >> i would say read the book. did in a plug. and i would -- you know, i would throw out some numbers and statistics. he would already know them. he would say -- he would respond
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that what he has tried to do and what he would like to do is pursue policies that would uplift all people who are similarly situated, but policies that would necessarily have a greater impact among african-americans simply because the problems of central poverty in this function are some much greater. i'm told that i am out of time, so i'll take one more question and that's it. >> a quick comment on the republican field for presidential nomination. >> a quick comment on republican field. well, it says a lot that after, you know, we had several weeks of -- rick perry didn't. now it is, you know, w

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